Spain’s Government Approves Embryonic Stem Cell Research Projects

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 24, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 24, 2005

Madrid, Spain ( — The Spanish government has given researchers the go-ahead to begin conducting experiments involving human embryonic stem cells. That makes the country one of four in Europe to authorize such research, contrary to the pro-life views of the Catholic Church.

Spain’s new Socialist government put forward guidelines last October allowing such research and, on Wednesday, it approved four new projects.

Bernat Soria, one of Spain’s top medical researchers, will use the embryonic stem cells to study diabetes, another project looks at Parkinson’s and the other two will try to transform the cells into other kinds of cells.

"We have been through exactly five years of ups and downs, including a change of government, but at least we can work in Spain," Soria told the Sapa news agency.

Sweden, Belgium and Britain also allow research conducted by destroying human life.

The Popular Party, Spain’s more conservative political party had previously passed a more protective law prohibiting the use of human embryos in research.

With the change, scientists can use "leftover" human embryos created by fertility clinics. Such clinics can also increase the number of human embryos they create for clients.

"It is not ethical to place obstacles and difficulties in the way of scientists who are using their talent and knowledge to improve our capacity to treat illness," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference after last year’s decision.

Pro-life groups and the Catholic Church oppose destroying human life to advance research. They say adult stem cells are more ethical and have already proven more effective because they have developed treatments for dozens of diseases.